Nancy lives in a rural settlement just outside Kisumu, on the shores of Lake Victoria, Kenya. Malaria transmission is high in this area owing to a combination of factors: the lake is a rich breeding ground for mosquitos and the area is poor, mainly supported by fishing and small farms. Nancy is 19 years old and pregnant with her first baby. Having lived in this area all her life she is well aware of the risks, especially for her unborn baby.
Diligently, Nancy attends the antenatal clinic at Kombewa District Hospital for her check-up and medicines. She receives a dose of sulfadoxinepyrimethamine (SP) to protect her and her unborn baby from malaria. Nancy is one of the luckier ones. Many mothers-to-be across sub-Saharan Africa simply don’t attend antenatal clinics; those that do often don’t receive the complete course of treatment. This is partly due to the poor perception of the medicine as parasite resistance is rendering SP ineffective in many parts of Africa.
Although Nancy is doing all she can to protect her baby from malaria, there are certainly no guarantees. There is an urgent need for new medicines to protect women like Nancy and their unborn babies from the threat of malaria.
Together with Pfizer and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), MMV is developing a new combination of azithromycin and chloroquine (AZCQ), to improve the health of pregnant mothers in countries plagued by malaria.